Technology

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

November 25, 2017

Mob Action on Knoxville Avenue

I have a client — I’ll call him John — who was recently injured when his pickup truck crashed into a car that pulled out in front of him on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria. The collision occurred on a weekday at about 4:45 p.m., near the intersection of Knoxville and McClure. John is a construction worker and was on his way home from work at the time of the collision.

Immediately after John’s truck crashed into the car, two young women jumped out of the car and began screaming at John, insisting that the collision was his fault. There were two other women who also got out of the car, but stayed nearby while they made some calls on their mobile phones.

Within five minutes, the area was swarming with people who were associated with the four women who were in the car. Several of the people started yelling at John, so he quickly moved away from the area where the collision occurred. Concerned about his safety, he called some of his coworkers and asked them if they would come and stay with him until the police arrived.

Shortly after John called his coworkers, several of them showed up in their trucks and parked about a block away from the scene of the collision. By then, there was a mob of people with the four women, many of whom were shouting at John. Finally, a couple of City of Peoria police officers arrived and dispersed the crowd.

After questioning John and the women who were in the car, the investigating police officer issued a traffic ticket to the driver of the car.

Later, after John got home, he began feeling the effects of the collision. His neck and back were hurting, and he had a severe headache. A few days later, he was still experiencing pain and headaches, so he called and scheduled an appointment with his doctor. By the time he came to see me, he had already seen his doctor and was scheduled to begin physical therapy for his injuries.

June 3, 2017

Are We Too Dependent On Technology?

I’m currently representing an elderly woman who was injured in an accident. When I met with her recently to discuss her case, she brought her nine-year-old grandson with her. After we were finished talking about her case, I asked her grandson what he wants to be when he grows up. He hesitated for a moment, and then his grandmother said, “Go ahead and tell him. He wants to be a YouTuber.”

I’m not sure what a YouTuber is. I assume that it’s a person who posts videos on YouTube for others to see. The grandson may believe that he can someday make a good living by posting videos on YouTube.

After hearing that the grandson wanted to be a YouTuber, I asked him what his favorite subject is in school. He answered, “Science.” I then asked him if he had ever heard of Albert Einstein and he said no. After I told him that Albert Einstein was a famous inventor, I said, “If your grandmother bought you a book about Einstein, would you read it?” He answered yes. I looked at his grandmother and asked her if she was willing to buy him a book about Einstein. She smiled and said yes. She seemed pleased that I was encouraging her grandson to expand his knowledge.

I also suggested to the grandmother that she look into buying an electronics set from a hobby store for her grandson to experiment with. I then mentioned that when I was her grandson’s age, I spent a lot of time experimenting with hooking up batteries to small motors, fans, lights, and switches, which taught me some valuable lessons about how electricity works.

Whenever I shop for a gift for one of my grandchildren, I make a special effort to buy a hands-on, experiential gift. I would prefer that my grandchildren not waste their time playing computer games or watching videos. In my opinion, it’s only through actual hands-on experiences with people, objects, and tasks that we develop the foundational knowledge that is needed for solving problems and challenges that will come up in the future.

January 21, 2017

The Future Is Here And It’s Scary

Amazon EchoIn the movie Back to the Future Part II, when Marty McFly Jr. sits down to watch TV, he doesn’t need to use a remote control unit to change channels. Instead, he barks commands directly at a big-screen TV and names six different channels that he wants to view. The channels instantly appear in a grid on the TV.

In another scene, Marty approaches a Garden Center fruit dispenser and commands it to give him some fruit. His first command is, “Hey, fruit!” He is ignored by the dispenser because it has been programmed to respond only to polite commands.

When the dispenser fails to respond, Marty says, “Fruit, please!” and the dispenser lowers from the kitchen ceiling. Then Marty says, “Thank you,” and the dispenser opens and allows him to grab some fruit. Marty then says, “Retract” and the dispenser rises back to its original position.

When Back to the Future Part II was made in 1989, the technology was not available to create electronic devices that were capable of responding to voice commands. Now, 27 years later, we have the ability to use voice commands to control computers, smartphones, appliances, and other electronic devices.

You may have heard of the Amazon Echo, which is a small, voice-driven electronic device that sits on a desk or table and responds to the name Alexa. The Echo can respond to commands requesting music tracks and radio stations and can answer questions and control “smart appliances.” More than 4% of the homes in America now have an Amazon Echo sitting on a desk or a table.

According to a recent article in The Economist, 20% of Google searches on Android-powered handsets in America are input by voice, and it’s a common practice for smartphone users to dictate emails, notes, and text messages into their phones rather than type them by hand.

December 12, 2015

Star Wars and The Age of Entertainment

Star-Wars-the-Force-AwakensOn Saturday, December 5, 2015, people started lining up at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX (“TCL”) in Hollywood, California. Their plan was to camp out until the evening of December 17, when they would be allowed to enter the theater to watch the newest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In response to a question from a couple who was visiting from Ohio, Caroline Ritter, a woman who was planning on camping out for the 12 days, said, “We’re lining up for the new Star Wars movie. Yes, we still have a very long time to wait. No, we’re not crazy.”

I know that my opinion doesn’t matter much, but in the reality-based world that I live in, Ms. Ritter sounds as though she may be a little crazy.

One of the men who joined the group of campers, Erik Murillo, brought with him a lounge chair and two large plastic crates that were packed with food, clothes, a tent, and other supplies. In response to why he had joined the group, Mr. Murillo offered these words of wisdom: “At night, you freeze and in the daytime, you cook, but you come for the camaraderie and the chance to be a part of cinematic history. Besides, there are traditions to be upheld.”

Hmmm. It’s news to me that the 7th installment of the Star Wars franchise would be considered “cinematic history.” What’s going to happen when the 8th movie is released in two years? More cinematic history? Erik Murillo’s empty words are nothing more than an attempt to justify his moronic behavior. What he wants is a story he can post on Facebook to make himself look good to his friends. I wonder where I’d be today if I was raised by a guy like him instead of a real man.

By Friday, December 11, four blocks of the street next to the TCL were closed to traffic to accommodate the crowd that had gathered waiting for opening night. A production manager for the movie told The Hollywood Reporter: “This is definitely bigger than the Oscars.”

November 14, 2015

Contraception, Illegal Immigrants, & Robots

robot_chartLast month, the Chinese government announced that it was changing its one-child policy to a two-child policy. For more than 35 years, the Chinese government has mandated that its citizens refrain from having more than one child. Couples knew that if they violated the one-child policy, they would be punished with fines, job losses, and forced abortions.

Why the change in policy? Two reasons: There are not enough children being born in China to support the rapidly increasing elderly population, and since the one-child policy was established, a majority of the couples have used selective abortions to eliminate their unborn female babies so they could make certain they would have a boy.

The gender imbalance in China is worse than any other country in the world. It has gotten so bad that there are not enough women available for the men who would like to get married.

Also last month, the South Korean government announced the third phase of a long-term program in which the government is offering financial incentives to encourage young couples to get married and have children. Why? Because there are not enough children being born in South Korea to support the country’s aging population.

France and Japan have the same problem as China and South Korea. In fact, most of the countries in Europe have the same problem. That’s why there’s a strong likelihood that Muslims will take over Europe in the future, because Muslims have more children than do the members of each of the seven other major religious groups in the world.

We have a similar problem in the United States. Although we’re not as bad off as the European and Asian countries, we have serious economic problems because of the lack of births in our country. When the Social Security system was started in 1930, there were 16 workers for every Social Security recipient. Today, there are only four workers for every recipient. In the foreseeable future, it is estimated that there will only be two workers for every recipient.

October 24, 2015

The Sin That Infected Our Entire Society

Sin PatentLast week I wrote about how the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, had signed a bill into law that legalized doctor-assisted suicide. When I found out about the new law, I thought about the deep-rooted thistles I had to dig up from the pasture next to my parents’ home when I was a teenager.

There was nothing good about those thistles. They multiplied quickly and within a few years had taken over the pasture. No person or animal could touch them because the stems and leaves were covered with sharp, thorn-like points that would inflict pain when the skin was pricked. To eradicate each thistle, we had to dig up the entire root, which was 12 to 18 inches deep.

The assisted-suicide laws that are beginning to pop up in various states are going to soon overtake the country just like the thistles overtook our pasture. The new laws feed off the same deep-seated root that fed the same-sex marriage laws that quickly overtook our nation and are now stinging and pricking those who dare to oppose them.

The same root that has fed the same-sex marriage and assisted-suicide movements has fed all modern-day evil movements, including the sexual revolution that ushered in widespread premarital sex, divorce, adultery, and abortion. All of these evils are treacherous thistles that now plague our society. Every year, these thistles spread and spawn new permutations of evil, some of which include:

•  Surrogate Mothers — Women who act as incubators for a human ovum (“egg”) that has been fertilized by male sperm in a “dish” before being implanted into the womb of the “mother.”       Prior to implantation, several eggs are fertilized and the most promising and robust fertilized egg is selected while all the others are discarded. Each fertilized egg that is discarded constitutes the termination of a human life. The sperm that is used to fertilize the eggs can be purchased from or donated by any man chosen by the parties who are involved.

October 10, 2015

Debit Card Nightmare

Debit Card NightmareBoo! Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a scary situation we’re all facing.

I landed my first job when I was 12 years old, delivering newspapers for the Peoria Journal Star. One of my job duties was to knock on the doors of my customers every Wednesday and collect payment for the newspapers. Each Friday at 6:00 p.m. I met with a representative for the Journal Star to pay him for the previous week’s newspapers.

I initially started out by giving my mom the money I owed to the Journal Star. She deposited the money into her checking account, and every week she wrote a check to the Journal Star. Each Friday when I met with the representative, I gave him the check from my mom.

My mom eventually took me to the bank and opened a checking account for me. After that, I wrote my own checks to the Journal Star.

When my first bank statement arrived in the mail, my mom taught me how to reconcile my checking account. That was over 45 years ago. To this day, whenever a bank statement arrives in the mail for one of my accounts, I take the time to reconcile the account.

Last month, a 19-year-old college-student client of mine told me that she had been charged overdraft fees of $70 by her bank for two separate transactions within the same week. She recently received a debit card from the bank and, like most of my bankruptcy clients, recklessly started paying for all her purchases with the debit card without keeping track of how much money was in her bank account.

When I told her that she needed to start writing down every purchase and keeping track of the balance in her account, she was shocked that I would suggest that she perform such a burdensome task. She responded with a question: “Why would I go to all the trouble of recording all my transactions when I can check my balance on my iPhone at any time of the day or night?”

October 3, 2015

Did Pope Francis Ever Cruise Main Street?

Chevy - 1955One of the greatest technological breakthroughs of the past 100 years was the perfection and mass production of the automobile. Although the initial design of a steam-powered “motorized carriage” dates back to the 18th century, it was the invention of the internal combustion engine that allowed the automobile industry to dramatically change our way of life.

The internal combustion engine was the first engine that was powered by liquid fuel. The engine was designed to generate power by igniting a mixture of fuel and air to produce multiple explosions in chambers that drove pistons to turn a shaft that would make the wheels of a vehicle move.

It is generally acknowledged that the practical use of internal combustion engines in automobiles didn’t start to take place until the late 1800s when several German inventors, working independently of each other, developed automobiles that could travel for long distances.

Prior to the Great Depression which began in 1929, there were more than 1800 American entrepreneurs who were attempting to mass-produce gas-powered automobiles for consumers. By the time the Great Depression was over, only eight American automobile companies remained: General Motors, Ford, Crosley, Packard, Nash-Kelvinator, Studebaker, Chrysler, and Hudson.

The mass production of vehicles created millions of new jobs for American workers, including jobs for designers, assemblers, road construction workers, mechanics, and truck drivers. It also wiped out the horse-and-carriage industry and large segments of the train and boat industries. There were massive job losses among blacksmiths, wainwrights (makers and repairers of wagons), drovers (cattle and sheep drivers), railroad workers, and canalmen.

I’ve written before about the process of creative destruction. It’s a term that was originally used by an Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950). Schumpeter described creative destruction as an essential process that takes place in a free-market economy that wipes out entire industries after new technologies are discovered and put into place.

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